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Hardin and Fischer Obtain Reversal of $1.8 Million Judgment
October 18, 2004

Litigation partners Harry Hardin and Madeleine Fischer obtained reversal of a $1.8 million judgment against long-time client, the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.  The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, in an opinion by Chief Judge Armstrong, reversed the trial court, vacating the award in its entirety.  The Fourth Circuit found that the accident was completely the fault of the plaintiff who was intoxicated on alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana when he stumbled into a train passing through the French Quarter and lost his leg.  The Fourth Circuit also overturned the trial court’s finding of negligence holding there was no evidence that the Public Belt crew failed to maintain a vigilant lookout. The Fourth Circuit made several rulings of law which should assist railroad clients, including holdings that (a) state law tort claims based on excessive train speed are pre-empted by federal regulations and (b) the Public Belt Railroad is a political subdivision, protected from excessive general damage awards under Louisiana’s Governmental Claims Act. Vernon Cooper v. Public Belt Railroad, et al., No 2003-CA-2116 (La.App. 4 Cir. 10/6/04).